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Book details
  • Genre:TRUE CRIME
  • SubGenre:Murder / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:474
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781667843988

Two to the Grave, Three to the Gallows

The Worley Murder Story

by Sherwood Owl Williford

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Overview
On a cold February night in 1878, in Wayne County, North Carolina James Worley and his wife, the former Appie Jane Snipes, met their fate at the hands of three former slaves. A local Goldsboro newspaper reported details: "Again, it is our painful duty to chronicle another most horrible outrage, perpetrated in Fork Township in this county, and this time a double murder ‒ James Worley and his wife, leaving behind three young daughters under five years of age. "There were pools of blood around the lifeless bodies, presenting one of the most heart-rending spectacles ever witnessed in North Carolina." The tragedy garnered national attention. From a leading New York publication: "There have been more murders committed in Wayne County since the war (Civil War) than in any dozen other counties in the state, but this murder is the most appalling ever committed in North Carolina." The victims were well acquainted with the accused killers and frequently invited them inside their home to "sit and warm a spell." Why, then, would those "guests" turn against them? Was this a random act of violence or was there a more sinister motive? Was it a robbery? Revenge for having been enslaved? Rape? Jealousy? Or evil promptings by the Devil? Lynchings were a simple and speedy way to insure "justice" in those days. Many local citizens clamored for it. Did the sheriff turn a blind eye to their wishes or were they granted a fair trial? What became of the orphaned sisters? Did they continue as a family unit or were they "scattered to the wind?" Today Appie Jane and James Worley's posterity numbers into the hundreds if not thousands. Stories from past generations continue to circulate among those living but after 144 years how many retellings are true and how many are laced with errors? Two to the grave, Three to the Gallows has been written by one who grew up among them. This is his attempt to set the record straight!
Description
On a cold February night in 1878, in Wayne County, North Carolina James Worley and his wife, the former Appie Jane Snipes, met their fate at the hands of three former slaves. A local Goldsboro newspaper reported details: "Again, it is our painful duty to chronicle another most horrible outrage, perpetrated in Fork Township in this county, and this time a double murder ‒ James Worley and his wife, leaving behind three young daughters under five years of age. "There were pools of blood around the lifeless bodies, presenting one of the most heart-rending spectacles ever witnessed in North Carolina." The tragedy garnered national attention. From a leading New York publication: "There have been more murders committed in Wayne County since the war (Civil War) than in any dozen other counties in the state, but this murder is the most appalling ever committed in North Carolina." The victims were well acquainted with the accused killers and frequently invited them inside their home to "sit and warm a spell." Why, then, would those "guests" turn against them? Was this a random act of violence or was there a more sinister motive? Was it a robbery? Revenge for having been enslaved? Rape? Jealousy? Or evil promptings by the Devil? Lynchings were a simple and speedy way to insure "justice" in those days. Many local citizens clamored for it. Did the sheriff turn a blind eye to their wishes or were they granted a fair trial? What became of the orphaned sisters? Did they continue as a family unit or were they "scattered to the wind?" Today Appie Jane and James Worley's posterity numbers into the hundreds if not thousands. Stories from past generations continue to circulate among those living but after 144 years how many retellings are true and how many are laced with errors? Two to the grave, Three to the Gallows has been written by one who grew up among them. This is his attempt to set the record straight!
About the author
Sherwood Williford was born into a sharecropper family near Bentonville, Johnston County, North Carolina. As a young child he and his family moved to adjoining Wayne County where he attended rural Grantham School for twelve years. As a senior he was named "Mr. Grantham" by vote of the student body. He served two years in the Army National Guard, followed by eight years active duty with the Air Force. While stationed at Robins AFB, Georgia he was twice selected base-wide Airman of the Quarter. At the conclusion of his Noncommissioned Officers' Preparatory School he was named honor graduate. Upon discharge, he received the Air Force Commendation Medal, highest peacetime award offered by the U. S. Military. With studies at both the University of Georgia and Brigham Young University, Williford earned a B. S. degree in Communications with an emphasis in advertising and public relations. For more than seven years he was a featured columnist for his hometown newspaper, The Goldsboro News-Argus, writing under the byline "From my Perch" by Sherwood Owl Williford. Williford has published two books, Grantham High School, the 1950s and a "southern language" book of humor, Hanging Out in Corbett Hill. He has written two screenplays. The first, Phoebe of the Neuse, is based on tales handed down for generations about Phoebe Flowers, also known as the "witch woman." His second screenplay, Leona's boy, is a fictionalized story based on life's uncertainties that faced Leona's illegitimate son. This latest work, Two to the Grave, Three to the Gallows, details a shocking "local" crime that garnered national interest. Williford is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He holds membership in the Golden K Kiwanis Club and serves as chaplain in the Grantham Grange organization. He and his wife, Jane, reside in Wayne County. They have four children and ten grandchildren.
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